Consistent performance at work has won S. Ravichandran an award and his genial nature, many hearts in Triplicane. Prince Frederick meets this extraordinary postman
When I meet him at Singarachari Street, S. Ravichandran has just finished delivering a huge stack of letters. After a short chat, he will return to the Triplicane Post Office to collect another pile for yet another round of deliveries, the last for the day.
This 54-year-old postman has a reputation to guard: he was honoured recently by the Mylapore Academy for consistently delivering all the letters and posts assigned to him without carrying any over to the next day. “Our target is to start every day afresh, without having to deliver the previous day’s posts. We’ll have to maintain 100 p.c. delivery rates for registered posts, speed posts and money orders, at any cost,” says Ravichandran.
Realising that he is in a ‘one-day match’ with a steep asking rate, I race through my questions.
He is extremely modest while discussing his performance, suggesting that every postman at Triplicane P.O. gives his best and that he was lucky to have had a figure that put him ahead of the rest.
“My overall tally was good – I was told by the postmaster and the public relation inspector that I had an almost 100 p.c. delivery rate. It was 99.7 p.c. or 99.8 p.c. or something in the vicinity,” says Ravichandran.
Postmen are also assessed for how they relate to the people they serve. On that count, Ravichandran seems capable of a perfect score, a hundred per cent success rate.
While I keep him engaged in a 20-minute conversation at Singarachari Street, many passersby wave to him. A few stop to exchange pleasantries. One of them, T. Jagannathan, tells me what makes Ravichandran special and his achievement, exceptional.
“Most postmen will throw the letters carelessly and leave. Ravichandran takes the trouble to meet everyone and hand him the letter. He does this to ensure the letters and posts reach the intended recipients. Ravichandran is a boon to residents of Amudhasarathy Apartments where I live. There, many share names. For instance, we have five Balajis, ” says the 71-year-old Jagannathan, a resident of Car Street.
The septuagenarian’s assessment of postmen carries considerable weight for the reason that he served in the postal department. He retired as head sorter (higher selection grade I) at Railway Mail Service at Anna Road Post Office.
R. Rajaram, administrative officer at Vivekananda Kendra on Singarachari Street, thinks Ravichandran is forbearing, and does not retort when people snap at him.
“He has a smile for everyone. In the two years I have interacted with him, I have never seen him frown. Others at this office, who have known him for over a decade, also consider him an amazingly genial person,” says Rajaram.
Another well-wisher of his tells me he may top the popularity charts in Triplicane. Ravichandran is postman for Singarachari Street, Nagoji Rao Street, Car Street, North Tank Square, East Tank Square, South Tank Square and Hanumanth Rayan Koil Street.
The goodwill he has built over the years is what makes him feel good about living in Triplicane: he is a resident of Swami Street. “I was employed at Triplicane P.O. on ‘outsider posting’ (temporary) from 1978 to 1988 and then on extra departmental posting from 1988 to 1994. When my job was made permanent in 1994, I was posted to the T. Nagar Post Office in Pondy Bazaar. In 1999, when I returned to Triplicane, it was homecoming for me. When I was on temporary posting for a long time, my family asked me to give up and switch to some other profession. I refused. I wanted to make it as a postman. My colleague V. Rajangam helped me deal with the difficult times,” says Ravichandran.
Having served as a postman for so long, he will soon be in line for appointment as a clerk. Postmen generally aspire to that position. But not Ravichandran. Here is his explanation: “I want to be a postman all the way through my career: I want to be out there on the streets of Triplicane and stay in touch with its people. If I am confined to the office, I will miss them terribly.”